Spanish Competition Authority Investigates Four Banks Over Government Loans For Covid-19 Coronavirus – Update

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(Adds CaixaBank comment)

By Pietro Lombardi

The Spanish antitrust authority is investigating Banco de Sabadell SA, Banco Santander SA, CaixaBank SA and Bankia for possible anti-competitive practices in marketing government loans to help companies and freelance workers weather the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

CNMC said Wednesday that it is studying the terms and conditions that banks apply to such lines of credit, as well as the use of these loans to restructure preexisting debts.

“After the analysis, CNMC believes that the actions of the studied banks differ from the good faith required from companies in their relations with clients,” the ministry said.

Santander stated that he complies with the existing rules for such loans and respects the competition with his competitors in their marketing. According to a bank representative, the bank “did not make guaranteed ICO financing dependent on any product or service, nor did it impose the use of such financing to restructure pre-existing debts.”

Sabadell declined to comment.

CaixaBank, which acquired Bankia in March, said it and Bankia provided the authority with all requested information about the marketing of these loans. He added that he is ready to provide CNMC with additional information on the marketing process.

“We are confident that the details and additional evidence we provide will allow the regulator to conclude that there has never been any sanctioned behavior,” CaixaBank said.

Email Pietro Lombardi at pietro.lombardi@wsj.com; @ pietrolombard10

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